Blogger’s Note: This post is dedicated to those who bothered to click and vote for my “Jumping for Joy” entry and to Star Cruises for picking it out of the Top 10! :) (And to my mom most especially, because without her winning face, I might not be writing this entry in the first place.)
Take it from me: the best things in life are free, and involve some sort of email.
Last November 28, 2013, I received the official email from Star Cruises announcing that I won their “My Heart Will Go Onboard” Facebook contest, with two free coupons for a 4D/3N cruise to Malaysia + Brunei.
It was glorious.
I’m not the type of person that spends money on things like cruises, but I think that if you were to splurge on something a little fancy, go with a cruise for the experience. :) One of my favorite things that was said on this cruise was actually from the Captain himself. According to him, “If you don’t gain a little weight in a cruise, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
SIGN. ME. UP.
Here’s My Attempt At The Ultimate-Amateur Guide To Doing Your Cruise Right:
1. Book flights early.
Superstar Aquarius (that’s the name of our cruise ship) docks in Sabah. So we had to book flights from beloved Manila, Philippines to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
Don’t miss those promo flights if your ship docks in a different country. :)
Your wallet will thank you. Just to give you an idea, our flight back to Manila for THREE people, only cost us about $115 (PHP5,000++)! Look out for those piso fares I keep hearing about, you never know!
2. Grab your family.
This is the secret ingredient.
I honestly don’t think anything beautiful is as beautiful without your family, or people you consider your family. Here were my good-lookin’ buddies for the ride. (And yes, family includes arguments and bickering, but you love them anyway, right?)
That’s action-star dad and super-star younger sister. :) (Click on the image for better quality.)
3. Settle in well.
How can you not? You’re basically settling in a hotel room. Even though our free vouchers only gave us an Inside Stateroom Cabin (meaning, we didn’t have an ocean view in our room), we still found it so homey. :) We were also very pleasantly surprised because housekeeping kept delighting us with their towel-folding.
In the photo below, younger sister is using her own access card to open our room. I think our first surprise was a towel-folded puppy. We also found perched on our beds towels folded to look like swans! Housekeeping, good job to you! :)
4. Appreciate the ship.
The ship by itself is a work of art. I’d definitely recommend Superstar Virgo, though, for its grandeur (and its water slide :D)! But Superstar Aquarius, though smaller, felt a lot more personal and still quite pretty.
5. Eat like you mean it.
Superstar Aquarius had about 3 restaurants of all-you-can-eat buffets. As in, unlimited food. UN-LIMIT-ED FOOD. The Philippines is famous for unlimited rice meals. How’s about unlimited meal meals? >=)
See, I don’t even have a lot of food photos because I was too busy stuffing my face.
6. Take the road less traveled. (Take photos.)
We never availed of the pre-packaged tours. We always went “free and easy” each time our ship docked.
We didn’t want to spend, but we didn’t want to miss out on the sights.
If you’re the same, take the road less traveled. You can refer to the ship’s tours (so you have an idea of what you can do), and then blaze your own trail!
Strike a deal with the local cab drivers.
Our cab driver brought us around Brunei (what a beautiful country!) and took us to all the places we needed to visit, and then some. We were able to save some cash, I believe…and we were able to make friends with a couple on their honeymoon! Talk about sweet.
7. Enjoy your downtime. :) (Play Jenga.)
You’re in a cruise, so relax.
Back in the ship, they’ve got lots of activities for you to do.
(Not just Jenga, promise.)
8. Connect with the crew.
If family’s the secret ingredient to a cruise, then the crew is the main ingredient. :)
If you’re Filipino, and you’re in a cruise, you feel like you’re just at home because of all the Filipino cruise staff. I love them! They make everything better, and they are going to be the reason why you’ll book your next cruise.
The cruise’s crew will make you so proud. Excellent service. Excellent attentiveness. Excellent everything. :)
These people are always upbeat and are always helpful and are always willing to make your stay happy and memorable. They also have a tendency to spoil you, so brace yourself. :) Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ to them.
My final suggestion?
Bring something from your home country, and then give it to your cruise staff. :) See how much they’ll appreciate it. :) I brought some local candy from the Philippines, and gave it to Johnnel here, and he was over the moon saying, “HALA, THIS IS MY FAVORITE. :DD”
“Cruising is made for love,” said the great Gywneth Paltrow.
I think she got it right!
Abiding in joy,